Central London

APE AND BIRD: RUSSELL NORMAN, EMPEROR OF SOHO

Lovely large dining room on the first floor:

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The ground floor is split into 2 sections, one housing the main dining area:

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And the other part is more of a lounge bar area:

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Leading down to the dive bar in the basement, finally a decent watering hole in central London.

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Some friends and I had been planning a dinner for a really long time. Even with the help of good ol’ Doodle, we were still struggling to get  a date in the diary that we could all do. We eventually settled on the 19th Dec.

I’d seen that Russell Norman had just opened a new venue in Shaftesbury Avenue, so suggested we head on down to check it out. I’ve been to most of his other restaurants: Mishkin, Spuntino and Polpo (Soho and Covent Garden) and whilst I love each one of them for their relaxed vibe and shareable plates, if you like a lot of complex flavours, you will be disappointed and at times I have been too. However, as Norman has remarked before, the Polpo fare is all about market to table food, which I guess means nothing too fussy, nothing too complex.

Ape and Bird departs somewhat from his previous ventures: set in a 3 storey building means the likelyhood of you being able to actually eat here is exponentially higher; gone are the teeny weeny plates and in comes proper gastro pub food.

Sadly, I have no pictures of the food, I didn’t want to distract our long overdue catch up with incessant photo taking.

I opted for the brown trout, shrimp & tarragon butter with watercress, which was simple but perfect, albeit a bit boney. I kept on stealing my friends’ truffled cheesy fries – I should have just ordered my own – they were seriously good. I also tried two forkefuls of my friend’s chicken pie – a flavoursome filling , topped with a lovely light flaky pastry.

Russell Norman was on the floor that night and came over; we ordered the house prosecco which at 30 quid was quite good value. I must say Russell was such a lovely humble gent despite his rapidly expanding restaurant empire.

Pudding time was fast approaching and I was excited. I am obsessed with sticky toffee pudding, so the sticky date pudding with ice cream was a no brainer – faultless. My friend offered a couple of bites of her blackberry & apple crumble with piping hot custard and my o my was it good; the crumble comes with a separate jug of custard, so you can pour as little or as much as you want – genius.

All in all, I really enjoyed the food: good (posh-ish) pub grub. If it’s stays at this level, it will become my default place for food in the West End.

I enjoyed my time so much, I went back the next day. This time, to the dive bar in the basement for drinks only. All the leather sofas were in use, so I propped myself up at the bar itself. Like Russell’s other venues, the staff here are predictably attractive with a nonchalant manner, which could be annoying but somehow isn’t. There were 4 cocktails on the menu and naturally, I had to try them all: Damson Sour, Old Fashioned, Americano and Manhattan. One word – superb. I shall be frequenting this place, that’s for sure.

Cost (meal): £33 incl. x2 glasses of prosecco

Cost (cocktails): c.£8

Address: 142 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8HJ

Phone: 020 7836 3119

Hours:

Monday 10:00 am – 11:30 pm
Tuesday 10:00 am – 11:30 pm
Wednesday 10:00 am – 11:30 pm
Thursday 10:00 am – 11:30 pm
Friday 10:00 am – 11:30 pm
Saturday 10:00 am – 11:30 pm
Sunday 12:00–10:30 pm

LAST VISITED DECEMBER 2013

3 comments on “APE AND BIRD: RUSSELL NORMAN, EMPEROR OF SOHO

  1. Pingback: BISTRO BELLET.CHÂTEAU D’EAU.PARIS | DAWN.WIENER.RULES

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  3. Pingback: KANNDID DIRECTORY OF LONDON RESTAURANTS – K A N N D I D

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